Monday, June 25, 2012

Exchange Book Review - iPhone and Exchange Server 2010

Hello All,

I was asked to review an Exchange book with a focus on iOS by Steven Goodman. Overall good Exchange Server book with decent amount of iPhone documentation. But there is a lot of non-relevant (non-iOS) content to call it an iPhone & Exchange book. I would refer to it as an Exchange Server Setup with a focus on iOS functionality.

There's a lot of content, which isn't relevant to experienced admins looking to brush up on iOS functionality/capabilities. For example, who needs to know how to run the "setup.exe" on Exchange (w/screen shots), design planning, HA, etc. Come on! Focus on iPhone integration. So, skip to the chapters you want to read, and don't attempt to read this cover to cover. The book lacks some important information about iOS devices such as throttling policies for iOS/ActiveSync devices, reviewing logs to determine performance usage (1/2 page on analyzing reports isn't adequate), etc. Don't get me wrong, the book is a good Exchange 2010 book with touches of iOS knowledge. But, if you run into Exchange performance issues with iOS/ActiveSync devices, you'll need more technical knowledge than this book offers.


P.S. I agreed with the other review that the author is jumping on the "Apple bandwagon" by titling it as an iPhone Exchange Server book.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Our missing email admin friend called telnet!

Want a free tool to quickly test your email server is responding to port 25 and is acceptable mail. Use the native tool available in Windows. Sadly, it's not installed by default, so you'll need to add it as a "Feature". And then you can do things like telneting to port 25 and see your email server respond.

See this easy to follow Microsoft article to walk you through the telnet process to send email. I use this often. You can easily find it by googling "telnet port 25" and then bang, you have access to it wherever you are. No need to memorize the steps.


NYExUG 3/12 Meeting Follow-up - Troubleshooting Tips

We had an excellent Exchange User Group meeting this past Tuesday about Troubleshooting Tips. Even though we ran later than we had in a while, we could not cover everything. I've highlighted comments and feedback received during the meeting and after. Thank you to everyone for your feedback. This is what makes us a community.

NYExUG Exchange Troubleshooting and Tips Presentation

Correction: the Exchange Server User Monitor (ExMon) tool does not list ActiveSync versions, but other AS performance stats.

Dirt cheap $60 UCC/SAN (5 names) certificate I recommend is which is backended via GoDaddy.

RDP Manager I use is called RoyalTS ($35) which has a lot of flexibility, functionality, stability, and works on XP and above.

Website tool highlights from my presentation

Attendees Feedback (thank you)

  • The website designed to check your TLS configuration.
  • "Out of control transaction logs. On a number of occasions we have had the transaction logs grow significantly (one every second or so). This can be caused by a rogue application sending emails via your HT or a bad out of  office configuration. We have experienced both.  The last one was a user's out of office settings. They had used the rules section in the out of office. Viewing the transaction log showed the user forwarding the same email every second or so. Turning of the out of office resolved the issue."
  • Exchange environment summary report based (# of Exchange Servers & mailboxes, DB sizes, DAG status, etc.
  • Post on troubleshooting ActiveSync issues from the Exchange Team Blog.
  • Tony Redmond wrote an excellent article about ActiveSync not working as a result of 2010 user being a member of the priv’ group on his blog site. If he’s truly 2003 user, then the only thing I can think of is setting up similar profile on a different iphone. If that stil doesn’t work then it’s the account & he may need to look into deleting the EAS association via adsiedit & redo the EAS profile on the device. An Exchange MVP (Michael B Smith) has commented several times in the past on the MSExchange forum re: the ills people have been experiencing with iphones – in our own environment we’ve seen disappearing emails/corrupted calendars/and all sorts of wackiness. I can forward forum posts if people are interested but my desktop team has been beaten into submission about what to do/not to do when it comes to syncing EAS devices with Exchange.
  • Free Microsoft RDP manager mentioned was Remote Desktop Connection Manager (I didn't like the last version, so I know nothing about this one -Ben)

Any comments, post them or email me. Thanks.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

HP SAN vs "Dividing by Zero". 0-1. SAN hardware crashes.

Hello All,

Never, ever, ever, ever divide by zero otherwise very bad things can happen. A client's less than 1 year old HP SAN environment crashed last week thanks to a SAN firmware bug (dividing by zero) which caused a kernel panic. And of course this only happened when uptime hit 208.5 days. Hence, HP calls it the "208 Day" bug. I call it poor software development.

Absolutely ridicuous. I have never really liked the HP SAN hardware which was brought over from Lefthand Networks. For mission critical environments, I'm a believer in proper SAN hardware such as the Dell EqualLogic line. REEF has deployed HP and Dell SAN hardware, and without a doubt, the Dell SAN hardware is better. Even the HP software has problems with Hyper-V and running under Windows Core. Disappointing. The Dell SAN hardware is better built and cheaper, and this is why REEF Solutions' is a Dell Premier Partner.

HP bug which causes reboots after 208.5 days


P.S. The IT Director of the client who experienced the problem at least has a good sense of humor. This "dividing by zero" programming mistake is clearly a common issue. Enjoy the image below.

Preparing for D Day for Me...

Hello All,

I've been doing a lot of "house keeping" lately before "D" Day. "D" day being delivery day. My wife is due with our 3rd child. While my wife is nesting, I'm doing the equivalent for an IT person. We had a false alarm when we thought it was happening, so now I feel like I'm living on borrowed time and have all this "extra" time. In the last week I've done the following:
  • getting our REEF NY & TX SonicWall firewalls updated to the latest code (VPN tunnel speed to my TX off-site environment doubled in speed)
  • rolling out a SonicWall based network bandwidth and auditing solution (we currently monitor it using another solution) for REEF's networks.
  • NY based on-site servers replication operating system re-installed (for REEF environment, the on-site server is 2008 R2 based. The replication data was not touched, since it is iSCSI based.)
  • NY based on-site servers replication software upgraded (to improve performance, noticeable positive difference between AppAssure Replay 4.6.1,31257 and [found a bug in the replication UI and alerted AppAssure about it and received a support response in 5 minutes. Impressive. I wish all AppAssure support techs responded so quickly]). For REEF environment. Enjoy the image below.
  • TX based off-site servers replication upgraded (same AppAssure Replay versions upgraded)
  • rolled out my digital photo album solution based on a BlackBerry PlayBook. Considered an iPad, but security, performance, and low cost of the 64GB PlayBook ($300) made it the better solution.
  • NY on-site server operating system re-installed (for clients environment, the server environment is Windows 2003 x86 based. Currently using a stable release of Ahsay. Planning to upgrade to latest stable version shortly.
  • working on deploying a new wireless SonicWall based solution so guests at home will be on a separate VLAN based network. In preparation for all those home visitors.
Notice the replication speed showing “10.22MBit/sec”. It should be “Mb”, not MB. A capital “B” is BYTES, while a lower case “b” is bits. This is on the latest version Dev has been alerted per support's response.

Back to spending time with the existing kids and wife,